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The zombie TPP is back – Jane Kelsey

Abridged from the New Zealand-based The Daily Blog.

OK, it’s (almost) official. The zombie Trans-Pacific Partnership, widely criticised as a huge, undemocratic corporate power grab, has been restored to life*.

What’s the latest move, and is it at all irreversible? In Japan on January 24, 11 Pacific Rim countries, including Australia, reached a deal to resurrect the TPP — a year to the day after United States President Donald Trump announced the U.S. was withdrawing.

Eleven Pacific Rim countries have reached a deal to resurrect the Trans-Pacific Partnership

The draft text remains unchanged, except for some provisions around institutional rules for the deal, the wording of which we have yet to see.

Some items will be suspended, pending the U.S. re-entry. These include most, but not all, of the toxic rules that would expand the profits of multinationals (like Google), Big Pharma, and Hollywood.

Changes to measures around the right of foreign companies to sue the government have been trimmed around the edges, but the main legal risks and corporate powers remain untouched. All this was settled by the last ministerial meeting in Vietnam in December.

There were four outstanding issues, including Canada’s demand for a stronger cultural exception. The Canadian government was seen as the main stumbling block. In Japan, Canada cemented a deal that involves side letters on culture, and protecting local content of automobiles. That is still not going to be an easy sell for Canada’s Justin Trudeau government at home, but by playing hardball it at least won some concessions.

The signing is set for Chile on March 8. Japan has suggested the new text may not be released until after it is signed — including the side letters that Canada and other countries have negotiated. The travesty of democracy lives on.

* The latest version of the deal is called the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership(CPTPP) – Ed.


Elizabeth Jane Kelsey is a professor of law at the University of Auckland and is a prominent critic of globalisation.

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